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Featured Article: “Why Urban Pigeons Are Worth Watchingby Rosemary Mosco
Pigeons are polarizing birds. Some people love them – feed them or take them in as pets – while others consider them “rats with wings”.
In this lesson you will learn all about pigeons – their history, their behaviors and what makes them unique. Next, you’ll participate in a citizen science project to make observations about your city’s local birds.
Do you see pigeons where you live? What do you think of them? Do you like them? Do you hate them? Or just ignore them?
Make a K/W/L chart and fill in whatever you Know about pigeons – what they look like, how they behave, what they eat, the history of the species and so on – and at least two things you Oant to know about them.
As you read today’s article, fill in the last column of your table with whatever you Llearn about these birds, including, if possible, answers to some of your questions.
The article you are about to read includes 12 words that may be new or unfamiliar to you. Look at the list below and define the words you know or use them in a sentence.
To check your knowledge, study vocabulary words using this list from Vocabulary.com.
Writing and Discussion Questions
Read the articlealso available in PDFthen answer the following questions:
1. Why were pigeons domesticated or tamed? What were their previous uses?
2. When did pigeons become less popular? Why?
3. What are some of the genetic differences between pigeons? Among the different types of pigeons presented in the article, which ones have you already seen?
4. How to learn more about pigeon predators by observation?
5. What two things have you learned about pigeon anatomy, mating or history that make these birds special? Add these to your K/W/L chart from the warm-up activity.
Option 1: Participate in a citizen science project.
Join the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Celebrate Urban Birds project.
Before participating in the experiment, think about the birds in your area: Are there certain species of birds that you see frequently? Do you know what they are called? If you don’t see birds often, why do you think you do?
Then follow the steps below to participate in the project. You can find more detailed instructions on the Celebrate Urban Birds website or in this printable worksheet.
1. First, find out about the local birds in your area. What are the dominant species?
2. Next, choose an area – about 50 feet by 50 feet – to do your birding.
3. Watch the area for 10 minutes and note whether or not you see any birds. Recording if you don’t see any birds is just as important as recording the birds you see.
4. Repeat your birding in the same area two to three more times and share your results with Celebrate Urban Birds.
Finally, go back to your notes from the beginning of the exercise: Are you surprised by your results? Why or why not?
Option 2: Learn even more about pigeons.
Watch this four minute video from TED-Ed that dives deeper into the history of pigeons and what they bring to the world today.
What else did you learn about pigeons? Do you see birds differently than you did at the beginning of the lesson? Why or why not?
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